Further to these we have U.S Pershing II missiles with precision instrumentation and range of 1600 kms. Then the Cruise Missiles, which are more like unmanned jet planes, more than detectable, famous for stealth, accuracy and mobility. These are atomic devices which are tactical which means they are supporting ground forces and strategic, meaning they are a part of an all-out major strike force. War in itself, even without the lethal power of atomic weapons, is a source of inhumane activities including mass killings and mayhem.
When atomic weapons are used, the damage caused is multiplied a thousand fold or even more. As the saying goes, “Everything is fair in love and war” and this is really true in times of war when the limits of brutality and sadism are transgressed. The first serious effort to humanize and reduce the burden of armament was made at the Hague Conference of 1898. the situation had aggravated during World War I when Japan started its all-out war against china and Italy attacked Ethiopia and the futility of the earlier conference was exposed. World War II saw the enormity of destruction and unprecedented havoc wrought on even non-participating countries forcefully occupied. The United Nations has as its top most agenda, devoted concerted efforts to limit the arms race and reduce the stockpile of lethal arsenal. It has attached special importance to the objectives of 1) Discontinuance of nuclear tests.
2) Prevention of arms race on the ocean bed. 3) Total preventing the use of nuclear weapons in outer space. 4) Total prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons. 5) To prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. A major treaty was agreed to and signed in the presence of the then secretary General of U.N.
Mr. U-Thant, in 1963 at Moscow termed as the ‘Nuclear Test Ban Treaty’. This was a major breakthrough and a victory for India, as it had been making efforts since 1954 to have a comprehensive agreement on banning the testing of nuclear weapons. France and China were not a party to this treaty. But inspite of this treaty, nothing conclusive and concrete has been achieved. Infact there has been an addition to the Nuclear Weapons testing countries. Besides France and China, the other countries who have joined in the testing are Pakistan, India and now even North Korea is threatening to do so. Iraq is making serious effort to turn nuclear.
It is already suspected to have facilities for producing chemical and biological weapons which can be far more dangerous and suicidal for the lives of millions of people, than nuclear weapons. Were these weapons to be used in war, the extent of the damage caused to our social structure and environment is unimaginable. Arms control seeks stability and predictability while the efforts of Disarmament are for the quest of zero. The USA and Russia have joined the nuclear club along with UK, France and china and their intention is to promote nuclear disarmament. They would like to disarm all others while retaining their powers to arm-twist and subjugate others. The other countries have been closely watching the efforts of these nuclear club members in reducing their own stock-pile and put into practice what they preach. In reality there is no intention as such and new weapons of mass destruction are being researched and kept ready for use the threat across our border has also increased as Pakistan has gone nuclear and India has refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or CTBT as it is well known. The shortage of power all over the world foced them to seek out nuclear power.
The power of the atom is well known and the energy released through fission is harnessed for power generation ignoring the risk from radiation which is even more than the effects of ultra violet rays of the Sun. the developed countries soon realized the radiation risk and instead of subjection their own nationals to risk, they started propagating the versatility of Nuclear Plants to the developing countries. These underdeveloped countries fell into their trap and acquired to the idea of buying these plants from the former. The developed countries dismantled their own for the purpose but not before the serious Chernobyl disaster of 1986 in Ukraine. More than a hundred thousand persons had to be shifted to safer places within two and half hours. Arthur Purcell reminded the world that it was an open example of “technology’s limit in serving humanity”.
A large number of people were affected due to radiation, most of them died and the radio-activity spread to nearby countries of Germany, Poland and Austria. Cattle, vegetables and milk in huge numbers and quantities had to be destroyed. More than 4000 accidents have taken place since 1957 and even after so many accidents; it is surprising that nuclear plants continue to supply electricity in more than 26 countries.
Of these France tops the list with 70% of its power produced at nuclear plants. India too has faced the problem of radiation leakage at their Tarapore, Kalpakkam and Rajasthan plants. Several luminaries have organized protests against this continuing danger of radiation leakage. They have concluded, “The radiation hazard was intrinsic to and inseparable from atomic power generation, as irrespective of their design and construction, all reactors were liable to routinely release radio-activity and harmful radio-nuclides.” This statement, widely publicized, has drawn no response from Indian scientists, who are clamoring for more such plants. However the response has been positive in the USA and other European countries. Realizing the fall-our effect of any leakage equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster, they have put their foot down and resultantly about 600 orders for atomic reactors have been cancelled.
The public opinion has a very strong voice in such developed countries and the elected representatives are very apprehensive of media backlash. The legislatures have learned the commissioning of existing plants too, in some states of USA. These modalities are being taken up by the Europeans too.
What India needs are strong public opinions backed up by Public Interest Litigations for the courts to step in and put a blanket ban on all nuclear plants? Blanket bans are the only solution to such pollutions and need to put in force on priority to save the world from disaster.